I have only recently discovered that many people have a great deal of antipathy toward anything with the word "government" in it, although I don't think those same people would have a problem with what I am actually proposing.
I also recently discovered that the concept of "government" is generally defined as being top-down, centralized, and hierarchical -- so my use of that word here is, at best, oxymoronic.
I am thinking that I need to come up with a new name for this idea that does not use the affix "gov". The description also needs to be rewritten to avoid using the word "government" inappropriately.
Tentatively, the phrase "liberty maintenance system" is a better description for what I mean when I use the word "government" here -- a system which allows individuals to collectively protect their liberty from those who would erode or destroy it.
InstaGov is the working name for a software tool to enable collective decision-making and cooperative action, on any scale. It might be thought of as the ultimate tool for self-organizing, or "government for anti-authoritarians". It can work either as a supplement to an existing system of government, on any scale, or possibly as a replacement, though a great deal of smaller-scale real-world testing would be a good idea before any significant resources are entrusted to it.
It was originally conceived in response to the flaws which have become apparent in the American system of government due to their carefully-targeted exploitation by the Bush-Cheney administration. (Further, quite early in the Obama-Biden administration it became clear that even a relatively benevolent leader remains far too beholden to the existing power brokers. We cannot depend on being able to fix the system simply by campaigning for the "right" person via the usual methods, hoping they win the election, and hoping that they will be able to be effective once they do; that game is thoroughly -- if subtly -- rigged.)
- /introduction — why we need this (longish)
- /components — the essential ingredients (shorter and more digestible)
- cooperative action: one of the major tools which can be harnessed without needing any special/official authority
- structured debate: a set of rules for cooperatively determining whether an assertion is reasonable or not
- /origins: earlier essays and pages which evolved into InstaGov
- /objections and responses to them
- Software design details are being posted at HTYP.
- I have obtained the domain name instagov.com, mainly for the purpose of securing the name "InstaGov" for this project; I picture this as a portal into HTYP-like pages about the InstaGov project, including a directory of sites using it.
Similar Projects and Proposals
- Collaborize is a project which seems to be putting together a few more of the pieces of InstaGov... difficult to find how to create an account (there seems to be a "register" link in the forum area).
- IdeaScale "Users submit ideas while the community comments and votes on the ideas. Innovation is driven by the wisdom of the crowd." A proprietary, for-pay solution having some elements in common with InstaGov
- There's even an Open Government section
- change.org has implemented the idea of people posting ideas and other people voting for them, but the voting is unary (one vote/abstain per idea) and there are no options to classify ideas or combine similar ideas. Note that a very similar system has been used at change.gov.
- empowerment clubs: "I propose a type of regular meeting which welcomes both atheists and people of faith, concentrates on empowering and uplifting people, and leaves all of the baggage behind."
- Futarchy by Robin Hanson: another proposal for a new tool for governance which could fit within pretty much any existing form of government: "In futarchy, democracy would continue to say what we want, but betting markets would now say how to get it. That is, elected representatives would formally define and manage an after-the-fact measurement of national welfare, while market speculators would say which policies they expect to raise national welfare."
- Freetown Christiania is a semi-autonomous community in Copenhagen, Denmark consisting of about 85 acres (a formerly-abandoned military base) and 850 citizens; an example of non-authoritarian government working cooperatively with existing government. I find it especially interesting that their gang problems seemed to begin when the authorities disallowed their open marijuana trade (also the bit about cooperating with the police to get rid of the hard drug users, and the police reportedly violated their promise and went after the marijuana networks as well). --Woozle 17:58, 12 August 2008 (EDT)
- Home Rule Globally: a badly-formatted and somewhat turgid site which discusses many of the same ideas put forth here ("humans can do away with the occasion for military hostilities") as well as a lot of fuzzy, poorly-supported, and/or irrelevant rambling. --Woozle 18:14, 16 August 2008 (EDT)
- PollDaddy: similar to the core "voting" feature of InstaGov, but without certain abilities (quick list, not necessarily complete):
- category management, with feeds
- range voting instead of multiple choice
- voter verification
- tracking of user votes by user
- Superstruct: Rook Parliament: some examination of the issues involved with unsupervised network voting
- WikiProtest seems to be a site with similar goals, but does not seem to have any new ideas to offer; editing seems to have petered out in 2007, and many pages are full of spam (as of 2010-04-03)
- Wikocracy was an attempt at defining government using only a wiki; it failed for a number of reasons, but we can learn from its mistakes.
- MediaWiki users can easily set up informal polls, but without the flexibility and analysis planned for InstaGov.